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Magic in Hockeytown

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings

  Tomas Jurco at the 2012 Detroit Red Wings Development Camp

(Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Magic is in Hockeytown’s air.

Tomas Jurco, known as a magician for his impressive on-ice moves, has been signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Jurco was Detroit’s 35th pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. And he’s been making the most of every opportunity since his name was called last June.

“I would say it was the game I played last year,” Jurco said of his favorite experience as part of the Red Wings organization. “I played in one exhibition game, we played against Philadelphia. It was just a great moment for me being on the same bench with Zetterberg and Lidstrom.”

He learned from the Red Wings veterans during the exhibition game, but grew up idolizing Swedish center Peter Forsberg. The Kosice, Slovakia native began playing hockey when he was four years old and hasn’t looked back since.

Jurco spent several years in HC Kosice’s development program, leading their U-20 club in scoring during his final European season when he was only 16 years old. He also tied for the team lead in scoring with two goals, three assists and five points in six games during the 2009 IIHF World U-18 Championships.

The right wing jumped across the pond when he was selected by the Saint John Sea Dogs in the first round of the 2009 CHL Import Draft. Jurco has enjoyed significant success in three QMJHL seasons, tallying 175 points in 172 games. He also went 16-for-19 in post-overtime shootouts and tallied a plus/minus rating of +126.

The QMJHL postseason has also been a strong point of Jurco’s career with the Sea Dogs. He has tallied 26 goals, 38 assists and 64 points in 56 President’s Cup Playoff games. In his eight career Memorial Cup appearances with Saint John, Jurco has also registered six goals, two assists and eight points. The right wing’s contributions during the 2011 postseason helped Saint John win the ultimate QMJHL reward and created one of his greatest memories.

“It’s probably winning the Memorial Cup with the Sea Dogs,” Jurco said of his favorite hockey memory. “It was really great.”

His success and talent didn’t go unnoticed, as the 19-year-old was Detroit’s top pick in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted, Jurco appeared in one NHL pre-season game before returning to Saint John for his third QMJHL season. He finished fourth in team scoring last season and his 46 plus/minus rating tied him for fourth in the QMJHL. Jurco also represented Slovakia at the 2011 and 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Jurco’s junior and international numbers were impressive enough to earn the right wing an entry-level contract with the Red Wings. But he also has an interesting backup plan, just in case.

“I would love to be an actor,” Jurco said. “I want to be in a movie one day. I really like movies and just being part of a movie would be really cool to me.”

If Jurco’s acting abilities are anything like his puck-handling skills, there’s no doubt his face will be on the big screen one day. His on-ice maneuvers that earned Jurco his magician nickname have already received nearly 300,000 views on YouTube. And those numbers are growing.

Magician, actor or athlete, Jurco will make his mark on the ice before anything else. And with a new entry-level contract, he hopes to make that mark wearing the winged wheel.

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